Monday 27 February 2017

Sage chiefs review Irish arm as firm mulls global sell-off

Accounting software giant Sage Group plays down job fears after revealing review process, writes Simon Rowe

Simon Rowe

Sage chief financial officer Steve Hare:
Sage chief financial officer Steve Hare: "Although the primary purpose of the review was to assess footprint in the US, we have extended that to considering how we best offer our payment or movements of money payment receipts and also payments out and across all our major geographies."

Major employer Sage Group is considering the future of its Irish-based payments unit as part of a global review at the FTSE 100 software giant.

The UK accounting and payroll software firm employs more than 500 staff at Dublin offices in Citywest, Dun Laoghaire and Sandyford.

Last December, Sage said it was exploring a potential sale of its US payments unit.

But the company's chief financial officer Steve Hare has said that in addition to mulling the sale of its North American payments operation, the software giant could exit payments entirely by disposing of its businesses in Ireland, the UK and South Africa.

"Although the primary purpose of the review was to assess footprint in the US, we have extended that to considering how we best offer our payment or movements of money payment receipts and also payments out and across all our major geographies," Hare told analysts on a recent conference call.

"So, we are looking not just in North America, but more generally. But I would emphasise we haven't made a decision and it's not necessarily the case that if we sell the North American payments business that we would immediately sell the other payments businesses. All we are saying is it is under review and we will make a decision based on what we think optimises our ability to deliver those services to our customers."

The US-based payments division of Sage is estimated to be worth €470m (£500m).

The businesses in Ireland, the UK and South Africa are significantly smaller, with combined revenues of around £40m of revenue a year.

Sage is Europe's second-largest technology company, producing accounting, payments and payroll software primarily for small business.

Although a Sage Group spokeswoman said the strategic review is currently focused solely on the US payments business, Hare told analysts "we will make sure we take what we are learning from our US review and apply that globally".

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